TV & Radio
It's not often that Mad Men shows signs of falling into familiar TV tropes, but the odd ending of last week's episode sparked some understandable alarm amongst viewers [SPOILER ALERT!].
After an epic, last-minute brainstorm session on their Burger Chef account, Peggy Olson and Don Draper somehow ended up in each other's arms, slow-dancing to Sinatra's My Way, with Peggy leaning dreamily against Don's shoulder and Don's lips lovingly grazing the top of her head.
"That intimacy was purely platonic, right?", asked Slate's Seth Stephenson in his episode recap, in a line of questioning that pretty much every viewer was yelling at their screens, loudly.
"Please, Matthew Weiner, do not stoop to mash Don and Peggy together romantically. It will make Mad Men feel like one of those unimaginative, long-running shows where by the end all the characters have taken turns hopping in and out of each other's beds."
Sure, there were copious levels of rum and insecurity involved (always a worthy excuse), but the scene completely undermined the Peggy we've grown to know and love, that paragon of professionalism who earned her place in Sterling Cooper through merit and tenacity. Way to sell out your best character, Mad Men, all for the sake of cheap titillation.
As Stevenson pointed out, TV's insistence on coupling up friends is at best lazy writing, and at worst pushes some weirdo ideology that says women and men can't enjoy each other's company without underwear eventually flying. In this day and age, it rings as false on TV as it does in the real world, where offices full of co-ed workmates somehow aren't devolving into daily orgies (unless it's all happening in that Level 6 boardroom and you've sadly been left off the company-wide group email again, poor you).
Which isn't to say it's always a bad thing - I mean, who would deny Ross and Rachel's grand affair, or even Monica and Chandler's (geez, that show really matched up everybody, didn't they?), or even that supremely romantic ending to How I Met Your Mother with Robin and Ted finding each other again after years of misery -- and relationships are rarely built on better foundations than long, flirtatious friendships. But other times, you end up with terrible things like that time Xander and Willow went at it and broke poor Oz and Cordelia's heart in the process (that was the worst).
Years ago, when asked if romance was ever on the cards for 30 Rock's Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy, Tina Fey lamented TV's insistence on hooking up every male/female pairing, even addressing the issue pretty excellently on the show itself, through Donaghy's own words: "Our relationship, however you define it, is more interesting than some dating scenario, and obviously to ruin what we have with a tawdry yet expert sexual encounter would have been a mistake."
With Donaghy's wisdom in mind, let's all pray to the television gods: please don't let these TV relationships go any further...
Louie and Pamela, from Louie
"You think I'm awesome. I think you're okay. It's just the way it is. We need to admit that, or just walk away," is how Pam explains this relationship to Louie after rebuffing his public profession of love. The result is probably the strangest, funniest ("Yes, I'll wait for you!"), and weirdly believable platonic friendship on TV. Their current formula - where he keeps pining for her, and she keeps calling him out on his bullshit -- is a more entertaining (and probably more realistic) relationship than whatever would happen if they hooked up.
Mindy and Peter, from The Mindy Project
Mindy's already done the whole sometimes flirtatious, sometimes bickering, off-on relationship thing with Dr Danny 'Frowny Face' Castellano, who is actually more likeable when he's cutting chewing gum out of Mindy's hair than trying to hook up with her. It would be silly to repeat the whole thing with Peter (Happy Endings' Adam Pally), her other professional acquaintance/helpful advice-giver. This show doesn't need to turn any further into a sitcom version of Grey's Anatomy.
Jess and Nick, from New Girl
Sure, these guys already consummated their once platonic relationship (depriving us of more star-studded dating cameos from the likes of Justin Long, Lizzy Caplan, Dermot Mulroney and Olivia Munn), but while it took two-and-a-half seasons to act on their giggly feelings, the last few episodes have seen them break up and refreshingly agree to remain friends. What will their friendship look like now that the sexual tension's all gone? Stay tuned, this could be interesting.
Abbi and Ilana, from Broad City
As much as I love Ilana's endlessly hilarious attempts to drag poor Abbi into unwanted threesomes, perhaps its best that these two remain the idyllic expression of platonic friendship that they currently are. I'm not even sure if sex would make their relationship any more intimate anyway, since it's already involved one handling the other's fecal matter.
Ray and Hannah, from Girls
This would be very weird, but Hannah's pretty much the only girl left on Girls that Ray hasn't somehow already hooked up with (Jessa doesn't count until her storylines get 60% less insane). Can't you see them, both temporarily depressed, chatting about Bronte, and casually hooking up in a backroom in Grumpy's? Nope, me neither. That can never happen.